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The Last Book In The Universe Hardcover – November 1, 2000
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From Publishers Weekly
Like the hero from his last novel, REM World, Philbrick's latest misfit protagonist embarks on an adventure in a fantastic--and often frightening--alternative world. Spaz, an abandoned epileptic, lives on postapocalyptic Earth, destroyed long ago by an earthquake. The gray sky rains acid, the food is largely "tasteless protein chunks" and the creation of "mindprobes," virtual reality movies implanted directly in the brain, is destroying what's left of civilization. When Spaz learns that Bean, his foster sister, is dying, he begins a forbidden journey to see her. Ryter, a wise old man, accompanies Spaz and outwits most of their foes; he also ultimately teaches Spaz the value of keeping stories alive. The author creates some fascinating characters, such as the Monkey Boys, a brutal band "as wild as the paint on their faces"; Lanaya, a genetically improved girl whom Spaz and Ryter rescue; and the Furies, assassins who work for the boss of the "underworld traders." Once they find Bean, Lanaya--in return for saving her life--takes them to the one place where Bean stands a chance of survival, Eden. This biblical allusion, plus allegorical references to the Odyssey (the ending echoes James Joyce's monologue for Penelope), is not fully developed, and some of the episodes are a bit abrupt (e.g., the encounter with the Monkey Boys and the Furies). But Philbrick's creation of a futuristic dialect, combined with striking descriptions of a postmodern civilization, will convincingly transport readers to Spaz's world. Ages 10-14. (Nov.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From School Library Journal
Grade 6-9-Following the Big Shake, which destroyed most of civilization, a small group of individuals (the "proovs") retreated to Eden, learned how to improve themselves genetically, and sealed their environment off from the sprawling ruins inhabited by the remaining normals. Plagued by genetic defects, a toxic environment, and illnesses, normals like Spaz live in the Urb at the mercy of latch-bosses and their gangs. Spaz knows that his survival depends on Billy Bizmo and the Bully Bangers, so when they send him to rob an old man, he obeys. Ryter willingly surrenders his few possessions except for the pages of the book he is writing-the first time Spaz has seen anything like this. And when the boy sets out to find Bean, his dying foster sister, Ryter insists on accompanying him. Along the way, they are joined by Lanaya, a proov, and Little Face, an orphan. Finding Bean is hard enough; helping her appears to be impossible, until Lanaya takes the motley group back to Eden and confronts the rulers with the truth about the outside world. This is science fiction, not a fairy tale, and everyone does not live happily ever after... Also, the science part of this sci-fi is vague. However, readers who don't examine it too closely will be caught up in the novel. There is definitely room for a sequel...
Susan L. Rogers, Chestnut Hill Academy, PA
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Top customer reviews
My review will be on the book itself, as I have not read it, but will update this review with her perspective of the book's story when she has completed it.
We decided to go with the paperback version and it is great quality and if taken care of, should last a good while.
I am not sure what the library binding version does or looks like but it was cheaper but in the end, we decided to go with paperback.
Got this book quick and in perfect condition.
This one is different. It is much more like a quest novel, with a thoughtful calm overriding everything else. Sure, there are dangers, and escapes, and close calls, and villainous enemies, but no attempt is made to make any of that feel truly threatening. And there is no heroic derring-do; not a single hero ever lays a hand on a single bad guy. The good guys talk, they reason, they argue, they convince, they show the other guys a "better way", and so they win out.
This is a slim book. The alt-world is just sketched in. The plot is sort of obvious. The characters don't exactly break new ground. But, you know, you could almost say the same thing about "1984" or "Brave New World".
So, a young reader's book of ideas, (equality, planning for the future, caring for others, individuality, sacrifice, nobility, loyalty, respect, dignity), wrapped up as an adventure story. Not bad. (By the way, if you sample the first chapter, bear in mind that this book takes a little time to get going, so the sample will give you a good idea of the writing style and the vocabulary, but not so much the eventual story.)
Awesome plot set in the future and well worth reading, even for an adult!